Weekend links 88


Typographic Composition (1924) by Teresa Zarnowerówna from a post about Polish graphic design at 50 Watts.

• “Direct action is a matter of acting as if you were already free… […] …the link between military and money systems remains the dirty secret of capitalism.” A lengthy and essential interview with “anarchist anthropologist” David Graeber, author of Debt: The First 5000 Years.

• “…it was after being told by an art director that he preferred her images of women to men that Toyin [Ibidapo] began to shoot boys in an attempt to prove him wrong. Something that Cult of Boys does perfectly.”

The pornographic imagination is deeply intertwined with the pain and horror of life. Some of that comes from our basic biological reality, which is unpleasant enough, and much of it comes from our social structures. Biological life has been completely degraded and continues to become more and more degraded in novel and more horrific ways, so it is inevitable that our horrible social structures – our schools, prisons, families, slaughterhouses and farms – become sites for the pornographic imagination.

Stephen Beachy discusses his novel, boneyard.

• “To my right is a wall bracket that, on closer inspection, turns out to be a human face made of porcelain fruits. The anteater rests on top of the television.” Jonathan Jones meets Jan Svankmajer.

Anselm Kiefer‘s new exhibtion at White Cube, London, takes its name and some inspiration from Fulcanelli’s alchemical exegesis, Le Mystère des Cathédrales (1926).

• Today (Sunday, 11th December) on Resonance FM at 8.00pm GMT, Alex Fitch talks to Alan Moore about HP Lovecraft and related matters.

Nick Hydra is putting all 112 issues of occult encyclopaedia Man, Myth & Magic online.

• Ira Cohen ‘s 1968 film The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda is available again on DVD.

• Colleen Corradi Brannigan’s paintings of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities.

• “Margate’s a bloody toilet!” Can you handle The Reprisalizer?

• Bibliothèque Gay on Cocteau’s Le livre blanc (in French).

• Josie & the Pussycats in A Clockwork Orange.

Lovely Book Covers

Words With The Shaman (1985) by David Sylvian w/ Jon Hassell, Steve Jansen & Holger Czukay – I: Ancient Evening | II: Incantation | III: Awakening (Songs From The Treetops).

L’Hôtel, Paris


The London broadsheets have been in a ferment for the past few days over a forthcoming exhibition at the V&A, The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860–1900 which opens on April 2nd. The Guardian‘s Jonathan Jones wrote a piece pointing out the French associations of the British Aesthetes in which he mentions the Hôtel d’Alsace at 13 Rue des Beaux-Arts, Paris, the place where Oscar Wilde spent his last few months in 1900 prior to expiring in room no. 16. By coincidence I’d been looking at my own photos of the hotel only the day before so here they are, little more than snapshots but they give an idea of the building at least.


The hotel is now merely L’Hôtel, and I had a couple of surprises when I went to find the place the last time I was in Paris. The first is that the Rue des Beaux-Arts is some distance away from any main thoroughfares, although this perhaps isn’t so surprising given Wilde’s straitened circumstances. The second was seeing a plaque to Jorge Luis Borges (see below) on the wall opposite the one for Oscar Wilde with its incorrect year of birth. Borges had a lifelong fascination with Wilde, the first piece he had published was a translation into Spanish of The Happy Prince (and The Modern Word has a short essay by Borges about Wilde). I knew that Borges had stayed in the hotel (there’s a famous photo of him standing in the atrium) but didn’t expect his patronage to be commemorated in this way; once again, Paris has a respect for writers that puts many other cities to shame. Wilde is celebrated with two plaques—there’s another beside the door which can be seen here—but what these pictures don’t show is the atrium itself, a small space in the centre of the building which gives the hotel a distinction Wilde might have appreciated even if he would have preferred to spend his final hours in one of the more luxurious establishments.

There are more views of the narrow Rue des Beaux-Arts at Google Maps while the hotel has a website here.


Continue reading “L’Hôtel, Paris”

Bindu Shards by James Turrell


Dhatu (2010).

The intensities of colour found in some of James Turrell’s light works might warrant the description “psychedelic” at times, although “transcendental” is probably more apt when it comes to his immersive environments. Dhatu is one of the latter, a new installation at the Gagosian Gallery, London, where a room filled with changing shades of light has been named after a bodily element from Buddhism. The gallery says of the work:

Light like this is seen rarely with the eyes open, yet it is familiar to that which can be apprehended with the eyes closed in lucid dream, deep meditation, and near-death experiences.


Bindu Shards (2010).

As for Bindu Shards, also at the Gagosian, the name refers to a kind of cosmic singularity in Hinduism and for this Turrell has created a bathysphere-like chamber which visitors are required to enter one at a time in order to experience its light show. This one really does sound psychedelic if Jonathan Jones’ frothing description is anything to go by:

Then I see a cityscape of vertiginous skyscrapers, with no earth below. All these forms and volumes that pulse and metamorphosise are defined by colours that change convulsively – the most intensely saturated greens and reds you can imagine, colours that seem solid, then burst into microscopic patterns of oranges, blacks, gold and misty white; all these colours bubble and whir at breakneck speed, as if you were in a particle accelerator. (More)

And a frothing description is all that’s available unfortunately, now that visiting sessions are fully-booked, but the other Turrell works will be on view until December 10, 2010.

Greeting the Light: An Interview with James Turrell
Other Turrell works at Flickr

Previously on { feuilleton }
New Olafur Eliasson
New work from James Turrell

Michelangelo’s Dream


The Dream of Human Life by Michelangelo (1533).

Michelangelo was of course homosexual. That obvious fact still needs restating, simply because generations of art historians have been embarrassed by it. Attempts to deal with the subject have a certain comic interest. E. H. Ramsden, who translated Michelangelo’s letters, refutes the slur of homosexuality with a resounding old-fashioned “Tush!” Anthony Burgess gives an equally Victorian shudder over the David, “so epicene that it invokes unpleasing visions of Michelangelo slavering over male beauty.” Many nineteenth century critics denied him any sexuality at all, apparently preferring a eunuch to a deviant; and even today, it is a common ploy to argue that his genius inhabits some transcendently bisexual—and therefore nonsexual—realm. The evidence for his homosexual loves is too strong to be denied, particularly in the letters to and about one of his models Febo di Poggio, and those about the fifteen-year-old Cecchino de’ Bracci. And it is immediately obvious in his art.

So writes Margaret Walters in The Nude Male: A New Perspective (1978). Appraisals of the great artist’s sexuality have thrown off the prudery in the past thirty years, and a new exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery, London, looks directly at Michelangelo’s attraction to young men. The central work is The Dream of Human Life (or The Dream), one of a number of drawings Michelangelo presented to Tommaso de’ Cavalieri, a Roman nobleman and (we’re told) very handsome youth he met in 1532. No pictures of Cavalieri exist, unfortunately, so we have to take his good looks on trust but it’s unlikely that a 57-year-old artist would have plied a boy with beautiful drawings and hundreds of love poems without good reason. Guardian critic Jonathan Jones has a book about Michelangelo published soon and he writes enthusiastically about the exhibition:

The Courtauld Gallery, that sombre, academic institution, dares to go where Irving Stone never went in his bestselling novel about Michelangelo, The Agony and the Ecstasy. It refutes, with all the authority at its command, centuries of bowdlerisation that have left the nude saints in Michelangelo’s painting The Last Judgment still – in 2010 – emasculated by prudish drapes. It gives us the unmade movie Michelangelo in Love, pouring out his soul in art and verse to a handsome youth whose beauty crystallised all the longings inherent in Michelangelo’s art ever since he carved his teenage masterpiece The Battle of the Centaurs, with its vision of life as a tumult of wrestling male bodies. (More.)

Also on display are previously unexhibited handwritten poems. The Courtauld site has more details about Michelangelo’s Dream which runs from February 18 to May 16, 2010.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The gay artists archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
The fascinating phallus
Behold the (naked) man
Michelangelo revisited